This past weekend saw the venerable Porsche 911 RSR and Porsche GT America competing in round 4 of the TUSCC GTLM category and round 3 of the GTD category, respectively. Driven by strong performance from the Porsche pilots, both the factory team and customer teams found varying degrees of success. If you haven’t watched the race yet you’ll want to stop here. Otherwise, read on for Porsche’s full race report and pictures.
Porsche’s Race Report
Porsche again stood on both the TUDOR United SportsCar Championships’ GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) podiums today in the Monterey Grand Prix. The weekend’s success at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (MRLS) was largely the result of driver performances in two race iterations of the seventh-generation of Porsche’s venerable rear-engine sports car. In both classes, Porsche factory drivers Patrick Pilet (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) overcame early adversity to capture Team Porsche North America’s first podium of 2015 in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR. Christensen also shared the No. 912 works entry with German Jörg Bergmeister to take fifth-place in class. In the GTD class, Park Place Motorsports capped off a weekend featuring its first TUDOR pole position with its first win in the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT America shared by Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, California) and Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta).
Michael Christensen, Nos. 911/912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: “It is a challenge to go back and forth between the cars. But, in the end I think it worked out well. You try and prepare as well as you can before hand. But, obviously, it is going to be difficult. We did a very good job on the 911. We did not get as good a result in the 912 car but I think P5 is still good.”
Porsche 911 RSR
Porsche’s factory driver program has been the benchmark for manufacturer racing efforts for decades. Today’s two-hour and forty-minute race on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn circuit proved why. With the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) racing it’s second round this weekend in Belgium at Spa-Francorchamps, the 20 works drivers were spread across two continents and seven official factory entries. Michael Christensen was tapped to do double-duty in this weekend’s fourth round of the GTLM title chase sharing the No. 911 Porsche North America 911 RSR with Pilet and the No. 912 with Bergmeister. When the No. 911 fell back early in the pit stop rotation, Pilet dug deep to bring the car from eighth back into the top-three on a track renowned for its difficulty to pass. Christensen, who had started the No. 912, took over and continued to fight and held onto the podium position at the checkered-flag. Bergmeister, who took the second stint in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR, also drove an inspired race after falling back early in his stint. In the closing stages of the race, the German overtook three cars to earn a fifth-place result.
Jörg Bergmeister, No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: “We pitted a little earlier than the others for the last stop and, with the new Michelin tires, we were able to pass three cars, including the two Corvettes. We managed to finish fifth. So we ended the day okay.”
Team Falken Tire ran as high as third with factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Braselton, Georgia’s Bryan Sellers. Ultimately, the only customer campaigned Porsche 911 RSR would finish eighth.
Wolf Henzler, No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR: “The race started very exciting for me. At the start everyone accelerated and all of a sudden I saw to the left side the Corvette in front of me was slowing down. It was very close. That hurt our start and I was not able to remake any positions. I think we learned something over the weekend. Every session we made a change but we could have continued in that direction. It is good to know and we will continue.”
Porsche 911 GT America
Park Place Motorsports unloaded on the Monterey Peninsula with a very fast Porsche 911 GT America. The racing arm of Park Place Porsche, the largest Porsche dealer in the state of Texas, captured its first TUDOR Championship pole position in convincing style on Saturday with Lindsey behind the wheel. The high expectations for today’s race, round three of the season for the GTD class, came into question when Lindsey was forced out of position on the start and fell to third-place. However, he retook second-place and the first round of pit stops executed by the team returned the Santa Barbara, California-driver to the GTD class point. Once in the hands of veteran racer Pumpelly, the program was locked onto its first podium taking the honors.
Spencer Pumpelly, No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America: “This was a team effort from start to finish. Patrick drove a really good opening stint. We had an early yellow and the decision was made to keep Patrick in the car. If he had not been so quick we probably wouldn’t have been able to follow that strategy and that really is what put us in a position to win. That and great pit stops. True team effort today!”
Three other Porsche 911 GT Americas – a car designed exclusively for the North American market and the GTD class – finished in the top-eight at MRLS. Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring winners Ian James (Phoenix, Arizona) and Mario Farnbacher (Germany) took third-place with the No. 23 Team Seattle Alex Job Racing Porsche. In sixth-place was the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America shared by John Potter (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Andy Lally (Atlanta). Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Illinois) and Leh Keen (Atlanta) drove the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche to seventh.
Honoring An Innovator
Team Porsche North America honored the passing of François Michelin in today’s race. Long considered an innovator and the driving force behind Michelin’s rise as a global leader in the tire industry, the loss is being felt across the automotive family. Out of respect, Porsche raced today with a black ribbon over one edge of the Michelin decals on the pair of works Porsche 911 RSR entered in Monterey.
GT Le Mans Results
1. No. 24 John Edwards (USA)/Lucas Luhr (Germany, BMW Z4 GTE – 108 laps
2. No. 25 Bill Auberlen (USA)/Dirk Werner (Germany), BMW Z4 GTE – 108 laps
3. 5. No. 911 Patrick Pilet (France)/Michael Christensen (Denmark), Porsche 911 RSR – 108 laps
4. No. 62 Pierre Kaffer (Germany)/Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy), Ferrari F458 Italia – 108 laps
5. No. 912 Jörg Bergmeister (Germany)/Michael Christensen (Denmark), Porsche 911 RSR – 108 laps
8. No. 17 Wolf Henzler (Germany)/Bryan Sellers (USA), Porsche 911 RSR – 108 laps
GT Daytona Results
1. No. 73 Patrick Lindsey (USA)/Spencer Pumpelly (USA), Porsche 911 GT America – 103 laps
2. No. 48 Christopher Haase (Germany)/von Moltke (USA), Audi R8 LMS – 103 laps
3. No. 23 Ian James (USA)/Mario Farnbacher (Germany), Porsche 911 GT America – 103 laps
4. No. 63 Bill Sweedler (USA)/Townsend Bell (USA), Ferrari 458 Italia – 103 laps
5. No. 007 Christina Nielsen (Denmark)/James Davison (Australia), Aston Martin V12 Vantage – 102 laps
6. No. 44 John Potter (USA)/Andy Lally (USA) Porsche 911 GT America – 102 laps
7. No. 22 Cooper MacNeil (USA)/Leh Keen (USA), Porsche 911 GT America – 102 laps